UK Navy sent to standoff with French fisherman
Two U.K. Navy vessels were sent to patrol the waters near the island of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, where French fishing boats congregated to protest limitations on their fishing rights.
A group of approximately 60 French fishing boats gathered Thursday morning outside the opening to the port of St. Helier, located 14 miles from the coast of France, according to The Wall Street Journal. They ignited flares and opened banners, then sailed away.
The standoff revolved around the French fishermen’s rights to enter waters near the island, which is a crown dependency of Britain.
Following Brexit, the government of Jersey enacted new terms for fishing that required fishermen to provide proof that they previously fished in the waters. Forty-one boats were given permits, but 17 larger French vessels were denied licenses.
The European Commission, however, argued that the rejection of licenses was a violation of the trade and cooperation agreement that was signed last year, the Journal noted. Additionally, the commission said that the U.K. did not provide adequate warning regarding the new conditions for receiving a permit.
In retaliation, a French minister threatened to turn off the electricity supply for Jersey this week, since a majority of the electricity on the island is supplied by a French state-controlled utility, the Journal reported.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dispatched the ships to watch over the situation and said in a statement Thursday that “the situation is resolved for now.”
“We remain on standby to provide any further assistance Jersey request,” he added.
This week’s demonstration remained peaceful and the port of St. Helier was not blocked, the Journal noted.
The quarrel is the latest tangle between the EU and U.K. since Britain officially left the union in January 2020.
Britain executed a new trade deal with the EU that calls for a gradual decrease in EU fishing rights in British waters until 2026.
The new system for fishing licenses was reportedly implemented to maintain the status quo, and permit the same number of EU boats to fish as before, the Journal reported, citing Jersey’s minister of external affairs.
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